Y[/dropcap[o (Miku Komatsu), 14, soon to leave hospital, tells Yayoi (Yuki Sakurai) that the latter is her favourite nurse. “Even though I made you cry when I stuck that needle in your foot?,” comes the questioning reply. When Yo checks out a day or so later, she learns that Yayoi is no longer working at the hospital.
Given to sneaking out via her bedroom window at any time of the day or night, some time later Yo is out walking at night when she sees two people having sex in a car. They get out. She’s sure she’s seen Yayoi and for confirmation takes Daisuke, a friend her own age, to see. Later, she leaves home and moves in with Yayoi. Who tries to put her off doing so.
In the course of working as a prostitute, Yayoi has struck up a relationship with a married man who loves taking her paragliding. But their spiritual connection seems at odds with their physical one. While Yayoi lets Yo stay with her out of a sense of protection, Yo is slowly developing a crush on Yayoi. There’s an idea about distance and attainability with Yo glimpsing a crimson paraglider unaware it might be Yayoi.
On her occasional return visits home, in and out through her bedroom window, Yo runs into trouble when she encounters her mother’s partner who is both violent towards and attempts to sexually abuse her.
Yayoi and subsequently Yo take refuge from their lives in a small observatory where they can open the telescope doors and gaze at the stars for long periods of time. It’s a place Yo and Daisuke have long admired but been unable to access.
If Yo and Yayoi are a sometime dysfunctional mother and daughter or occasional dysfunctional lovers – and Yo’s own family an example of an emotionally distant mother protecting a child-abusive partner – at least Daisuke’s family are offered as proof that some families provide a nurturing and caring environment. So much so, in fact, that when at one point his family takes her in it turns out a pleasant experience.
Female Japanese director Aya Igashi has an extraordinary way of expressing emotions and feelings on screen. She has also found some very effective ways of shooting sex scenes. For instance in silhouette, so even though you know (and hear) exactly what’s happening, you can see virtually nothing. A Crimson Star is neither exploitative nor titillating, yet it absolutely gets to the heart of the matter. The female gaze, perhaps?
This accomplished and highly original first feature is unlike any other movie this writer has ever seen. Hopefully, we’ve not heard the last of Aya Igashi who, at a mere 22 years old, is surely a talent to watch.
A Crimson Star plays in the Raindance Film Festival. Watch the film trailer below: